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How Cats Mourn

 

 

Just days after we had to say goodbye to James Bond, we took Mithy for his altering. We’d made the appointment weeks before. It was just an accident of timing.

Because it was the wrong time to have another cat go missing.

 

Reverend Jim sleeps a lot.

Reverend Jim sleeps a lot.

After we dropped Mithy off at a safe place for him to not have food or water before his operation, we returned to three very sad faces.

 

The older three had been sad enough at James Bond’s passing, and now their new friend was gone, too! We did our best to demonstrate that it was a short absence and he would return, but this probably worked little better than our metaphysical explanations of James’ next Phase of Being.

As an adult, Reverend Jim handles stress by withdrawing. It’s a fine distinction, because he loves sacking out nearby, but when he seeks another room to sack out in, that’s unusual. And his appetite is low. This is very unusual.

 

Tristan keeps his tail close.

Tristan keeps his tail close.

Tristan has been clingy and over-sensitive.

 

He has the lowered lids and downward drooping face of sorrow. He tends to sit in a droopy posture and not pay attention to what is around him.

At night, he makes a point of prowling the apartment for “one last search” and then curling up behind my knees. He does this many times a night.

Normally, he sleeps with his tail stretched out, often acting as an independent organism. It bounces about in tune with his dreams and often curls, monkey-like, over nearby objects. But now he hugs his tail under his chin, and both of them are very still.

 

Olwyn hides under the bed.

Olwyn hides under the bed.

Olwyn was James’ protege, the one most like him, the one who would curl up near him on the bed when the Rowdy Boys were playing in the living room.

 

She loved to come tell him how she had Supervised the mixing of the different dry foods with nutritional supplement, made sure Mr WayofCats was making the right artistic choices in his studio, and had successfully gotten me to do something properly.

Now, she hides. She loves to make everyone happy and control everything, and there is nothing she can do about this upheaval in our home.

The best way to handle our cats’ grief is to discuss the lost being with them. When I come across Tristan lying on the top of the linen chest where James spent a lot of time, I pet him and talk about James. We tell Olwyn how proud James must be when she completes one of her many tasks. We are also encouraging her to make friends with Tristan, who has always been close to her.

Fortunately, Mithy came back the next evening. It was still a bit upsetting, because the anesthetic had not entirely worn off, he staggered around helplessly, and he smelled like the vet. Mithy was also upset about the whole distressing incident, from spending the night somewhere else, with no food, and then being back in a cage at the vet’s.

But it all worked out.

RJ was overjoyed at his Little Buddy’s return. He didn’t care that he couldn’t stay upright and smelled funny. Tristan was further upset by Pod-Mithy, but a few days of everyone cleaning each other restored equilibrium. Olywn was even more upset that he had come back “defective,” but took to inspecting every inch of him and hissing at any vet smell places Mithy and RJ had to clean more. Mithy got over his fright, deciding it was an aberration in his otherwise happy life with us.

Things are moving back to the New Normal. Tristan is slowly cutting down on his searches, while Olwyn “tells” the humans of her recent accomplishments and we make a point of walking around and praising her while she tours different areas. RJ and Mithy are once again close cuddle buddies.

Life does, indeed, go on. And, no matter how sad it can get, that is really the best thing about it.

 

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